Need a job? Then you need references too! Without any professional work experience, how are you supposed to find a quality reference? You don’t need a true professional job to be able to find excellence references.

First off, you shouldn’t be using friends or family as a reference. You need somebody who can give unbiased input on how you operate at work or school.

So where do you find references?

  • A former job (part-time or full-time)
  • From your volunteer experience
  • Internships
  • School

Who makes a good reference?

  • A former boss
  • Co-workers
  • Mentors
  • Professors
  • Previous clients (babysitting, landscaping, tutoring, etc.)

When you turn in your list of references (typically between three and five people), give all the information an employer might want, such as their name, relation to you, company address, phone number and email. Also, make sure you notify your references prior to sending them in. After all, you want to make sure they will say good things about you because it can be hard to offset a bad reference.

When you’re out of school or the business setting, it can be harder to reach out to former colleagues. Remember to utilize LinkedIn to connect with people who are far away.

It can seem like a daunting task to reach out to somebody asking for such a big favor, but don’t be intimidated, people are happy to help, just be sure to ask them the right way! But, how could that possibly be? It’s great to ask in person, but sometimes that isn’t always possible and you need to reach out by email. Regardless of how you ask, try to keep it short, sweet and straight to the point.

Some people will offer to be your reference, but it is still a courtesy to ask. Tell them why you want them to be your reference – most likely because they know a lot about your skills. It will also be helpful if you give them a copy of your resume and tell them more about the job you are applying for and include the job description.

Make sure you write your reference a thank you note to show them how much you appreciate them being you reference and be sure to keep them updated on your job search so they are never surprised when a potential employer calls them.

What are your tips for finding the perfect reference?